Per Strand, Director General of the Norwegian Radiation & Nuclear Safety Authority, and Massimo Aparo, Deputy Director General and Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Department of Safeguards, have signed practical arrangements to include Norway in the Agency’s Member State Support Programme (MSSP). Under the partnership, formally signed in September, Norway will work closely with the IAEA to address challenges and opportunities in the field of nuclear safeguards.

“By establishing a MSSP, Norway intends to help the IAEA strengthen the Agency’s nuclear verification system,” said Per Strand. “Norway has a long association with the IAEA and was the very first country to have an IAEA safeguards inspection in 1962. I’m delighted that the new MSSP with the IAEA bolsters this long relationship.”

MSSPs extend support to the IAEA in various forms, including knowledge exchange, technology transfer, expert collaboration and financial support. These efforts collectively assist the IAEA in its mission to verify the peaceful use of nuclear materials while staying at the forefront of advancements in nuclear technology.

“MSSPs are one of the primary ways states can help strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of Agency safeguards,” said Massimo Aparo. “By leveraging the impressive array of expertise and talent from Norway, I am confident we can accomplish great things together.”

IAEA said the establishment of Norway's MSSP marks a significant addition to the network of active support programmes across the world, which has now reached 24. The partnership will allow the IAEA to work closely with Norway on a range of projects including advancing safeguards by design for new or modified facilities; training of IAEA safeguards inspectors; and developing and testing new spent fuel measurement methods.

"Norway recognises the paramount importance of the IAEA maintaining the highest standards in international nuclear safeguards,” said Susan Eckey, Permanent Representative of Norway to the International Organisations in Vienna. “By joining the IAEA's Member State Support Programme, we aim to contribute to global efforts in this critical area. This partnership underscores our dedication to verifying the peaceful use of nuclear material worldwide.”

Norway has no operating NPPs but is considering the possibility of introducing small modular reactors. It has experience with operating research reactors, although they are now closed down. Halden municipality has more than 60 years of experience hosting a research reactor at the Institute of Energy Technology (IFE). IFE, which was founded in 1948 to develop Norway's nuclear research, built and operated four research reactors – three in Kjeller (JEEP I, N0RA and JEEP II) and one in Halden (the Halden Boiling Water Reactor – HBWR). Jeep I operated from 1951-1969; NORA from 1961 to 1968; and JEEP II from 1966 to 2019. HBWR went into operation in 1959 and was used for a wide range of safety-related research. The reactor was licensed to operate until 2020. However, in 2018, while temporarily shut down due to a safety valve failure, it was decided that licence renewal would not be pursued, and the reactor would not be restarted for economic reasons.

Image: Per Strand, Director General of the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, and Massimo Aparo, Deputy Director General and Head of the IAEA Department of Safeguards, sign the practical arrangements to establish the new Norwegian MSSP (courtesy of IAEA)